POW! WOW! Hawaii was invited by SXSW to curate murals across Austin during its annual interactive, film, and music conference. In collaboration with SpATX, an Austin-based art collective, who coordinated a lot of the wall space logistics. POW! WOW! brought local Austin artists, Ana Maria, Lucas Aoki, Mouf and Truth together with international artists; among them Ron English, Rone, and Risk to add to Austin’s already colorful personality. Over the course of the week, the murals began to evolve and take shape on the buildings. Most of the murals finished by the time the music showcase portion of SXSW kicked off, except for one spontaneous wall space.
We met up with out of town artists, Tatiana Suarez, Yoskay Yamamoto, Meggs, Kamea Hadar, and Jeff Gress as they were finishing up Barton Springs’ last minute mural. Sprung out of the pre-planned space on the west side of 901 Barton Springs Road; Kamea discussed with the building owner how the connected north wall, which faces the street, would feel incomplete and encouraged him to allow the artists to create a uniform piece of work on the building.
photograph by Brandon Shigeta | Mural by Yoskay Yamamoto and Tatiana Suarez
Pulling the color palate from Yoskay’s and Tati’s mural on the west wall, the artists continued the ocean theme onto the new massive space. The concept seed was a feather to tie into Meggs’ owl, but it was Yoskay’s signature moon that inspired a mural full of cultural history. Painted by Hawaiian artist Kamea, Hina, the Hawaiian goddess of the moon who guided sailors, carries the moon in her hand. In her hair is a lotus flower, painted by Tatian Suarez. Symbolic of a Brazilian folktale her mother would tell her. In the story a woman, Naia, reached for the moon and drowned in its reflection; in her death the gods took pity on her and turned her into a lotus flower which only blooms at night. Jeff Gress worked on the feather which blows in the wind opposite to Hina, inspired by Texas, the feather’s western scroll pulls in the cities own history.
The artists’ creative energy pulsated as they brought together their concepts and allowed the collaboration to bring about the mural’s direction. Even at the end of the week, with weary muscles and tired hands from 12 hour days of painting, the artists were in high spirits. As Kamea Hadar put it, who is also co-director of POW! WOW! Hawaii, the SXSW logo is an X “there’s three colors in the x and on represents film, one represents music, and on represents interactive. The fourth gray one, it’s a no-brainer to me to make the fourth one art.”
If you’re lucky to roam Austin while these murals are still up, rent a bike and go on a treasure hunt. Where is your favorite mural in your city?